by Trinity Gruenberg
The worst drought in decades has left Montana ranchers and farmers in a difficult position. Without hay or grass to feed the cattle, some are purchasing hay from hundreds of miles away or have had to thin their herds.
The Wadena County Farm Bureau (WCFB) knows of their plight and is trying to lend them a hand in the form of a hay lift.
They have been planning this since the drought reared its ugly head this summer. Details were finalized at the end of December.
WCFB President Craig Neal and Vice President Brian Roth take hunting trips to Montana and have friends in the area. Their hunting spot in Dawson County, Montana is in part of the state that was hit the worst by the drought.
Their friends in Montana shared with the men how bad the conditions were. Neal and Roth chatted about the situation and sent some hay bales to their friends in September. The two hunted out there this fall and met with the Dawson County Farm Bureau President Gene Evans.
“We were told they were in need of eight loads of hay for the ranchers in their area,” said B. Roth.
“Ninety percent of the hay didn’t turn out. We’ve been buying it, trucking it in from 2-300 miles away, just buying the bare minimum of what we need and we’re still short. Hopefully this hay lift will carry us through until we get some green grass in the spring,” said Evans.
Evans is located in Bloomfield, 28 miles north of Glendive. He explained during the middle of April, early May, there was moisture in the ground from the snow that winter, but the temperature became very hot with high winds that dried out several inches of soil, drying up the grass.
“Normally, the cattle graze in the summer pastures until November. The middle of June I turned the cows out into the hayfields because there was no grass,” said Evans.